Sunflower Hill named Nonprofit of the Year

Assemblywoman Baker honors Tri-Valley organization at State Capitol
by Jeremy Walsh / Pleasanton Weekly

Tri-Valley nonprofit Sunflower Hill has been recognized at the state level for its efforts to provide vocational, educational and residential opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities in the region.

Local Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) singled out Sunflower Hill as her district’s 2017 Nonprofit of the Year. The organization was honored at ceremonies at the State Capitol and in Livermore last week.

“Sunflower Hill is a fitting, deserving recipient of our Nonprofit of the Year Award,” Baker said in a statement. “This local organization creates an environment of hope, greater independence and community connection for special needs adults. Our community is better and enriched by Sunflower Hill.”

“We are honored and so very grateful for this award,” said Susan Houghton, president of Sunflower Hill’s Board of Directors.

“Creating long-term, sustainable communities and ways for individuals with developmental delays to create meaningful lives is paramount,” Houghton added. “Our sincere thanks to Assemblywoman Baker for her tremendous support.”

Formed almost five years ago, Sunflower Hill has created a sustainable garden in Livermore harvested by adults with developmental disabilities and local volunteers. The nonprofit is also working to move forward with new residential communities in Pleasanton and Livermore for people with special needs.

Sunflower Hill Gardens at Hagemann Ranch produced more than 9,600 pounds of food last year, and more than 70% of the one-acre garden’s yield is donated to local food shelters like Open Heart Kitchen and Tri-Valley Haven.

The nonprofit is looking to create more vocational opportunities in horticulture for people with special needs and is working with Las Positas College on a non-credit certificate program.

With another key focus on housing options for people with special needs, Sunflower Hill is planning a residential community for 30 adults on the edge of downtown Pleasanton, with land set aside for the nonprofit to develop near a new 87-house project where Stanley Boulevard turns into First Street. That’s in addition to moving forward with a housing complex to serve 44 adults with developmental disabilities on First Street in Livermore.

Because of these efforts and others, Baker said she chose Sunflower Hill as her Nonprofit of the Year, with representatives recognized in Sacramento on California Nonprofits Day on June 28 as well as at a local ceremony the next day at Sunflower Hill Gardens.

Houghton credited the support Sunflower Hill and other local nonprofits have received from the assemblywoman since her election 2-1/2 years ago.

“From her first month in office, Assemblywoman Baker made it clear that nonprofit organizations in her district were important constituents. She wanted to know our issues and how she could help,” Houghton said. “Her new appointment on the Assembly Select Committee on Nonprofits is a testament to this focus and her passion to ensure that every voice deserves to be heard.”

She added, “Special thanks to our volunteers, families and community supporters for believing in our vision and what we want to create. We are grateful to be a part of a community that believes so strongly in helping others.”

View photos from the ceremony and event here.